Cycling computer on a MTB Benificial? or Nay

I was thinking about getting a Wahoo Bolt to begin to collect data from MTB rides but being MTB racing is anything but predicable how good would the data be except for being able to compare course data performance. Power, heart rate, and cadence would be all over the place and would change with overall fitness improvements.

I like the mapping offered by the Wahoo as it relates to downloading trail maps of place that I plan to ride that I have never been or raced…

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I personally use my Garmin watch to record the data from my mountain bike. Having an actual bike computer while mountain biking wouldn’t be useful during the ride on any of the trails I ride. Simply to tight and turny to be staring at a screen.

But post ride, it’s great to compare efforts in strava. I’ve got a speed sensor and cadence sensor on the mountain bike and will eventually get a power meter because I’m interested to see what effort it actually is taking.

If you race, absolutely beneficial especially post race analysis.

Also entertaining if you ride the same trails to see yourself get faster on segments and loops from Strava.


If you don’t need a display on your handlebars, one option is to use your phone to record everything.

Thats what I do, and have been very happy with the data it gives me. Plus the trail maps on something like mtbproject are fantastic. And chances are you’re bringing your phone with you on your ride anyway.

I’m waiting for the debate on GPS accuracy between smartphone and cycling computer …:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I have the Element Bolt and with multiple mounts use it on all five of my bikes. I have the pages setup for road and mtb use.

On my road bike I have the display showing mostly power numbers. Not so interested in speed. Heart rate is on along with HR zone.

When on mtb I have it showing speed and avg speed, heart rate, climbing distance etc. I mainly use HR and average speed to pace XCO rides or marathon up to 3 or 4 hours. I don’t yet have a PM on the XC bike but if I did I’d refer to the normalised power to aid pacing. Plenty of time to look at the screen while riding.

When enduro racing I have average speed and total time riding front and center so that I know how long I have left to make it to stages and ultimately the finish line.

I also bought the little tethering cable that screws into back of the unit which allows you to tie the head unit onto the handlebar. Won’t go missing in a crash.

In conclusion I find it most useful. During and after rides, on and off road. You do have plenty of time to look at it off road. Worthwhile purchase I feel.



I’m a bit of a data nerd but definitely like having a computer and PM on my mountain bikes.

While out riding, I like to see what my power numbers are on longer sustained climb. Feel this helps me with pacing at times. I also like to see my IF periodically to get a more accurate measure of how hard I’m pushing things.

Both Garmin and the Element Bolt are good options. I find the larger Garmin’s really nice to use when I head to areas that I don’t know the trails and use the large display to show the trail network. Really useful is Colorado or Utah, where there are tons of interconnecting trails.

Other option is a Garmin watch. You can track pretty much exactly the same things on some of the models like the Fenix series, plus you get a cool watch that you can use for other things.

If you just do mtb - then just get a watch instead.
The data capture is exactly the same plus you have a watch to wear all the time

I don’t have a PM on my MTB but I have a Bolt Mini w/ Bluetooth to my phone to track my ride. I primarily use it for races so I can have an easy reminder to eat at certain intervals, and I also use it to help easily see if I’m on the right pace based on where I know I should be on the course.

Thanks for all the info! I already have a Garmin 230 ForeRunner watch and a Garmin heart rate monitor that I use, as well as a Strava membership. So without a minor investment for a powermeter and the Wahoo Bolt it would seem that I’m not going to gather that much more data compared to what I’m already getting.

Any of the Tri watches and the higher model run watches will talk to power meters if you make want data capture.

I’ve never looked at the mapping on my Bolt other than that one time I got lost - but it was super handy actually.